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Russian finance official Storchak charged with attempted fraud

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Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak has been charged with attempted fraud 18 months after he was arrested, the Prosecutor General's Office said on Thursday.
MOSCOW, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak has been charged with attempted fraud 18 months after he was arrested, the Prosecutor General's Office said on Thursday.

Storchak, who oversaw foreign debt talks at the ministry and was a key figure in Russia's talks with the Paris Club, was detained in November 2007 and accused of attempting to embezzle $43 million from the state.

The Prosecutor General's Office issued a statement which said that "final charges had been bought against deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak, former deputy finance minister Vadim Volkov and Viktor Zakharov," for attempted fraud.

Storchak who was released in October last year on a pledge not to leave the country participated in a meeting of the Finance Ministry this week.

"The investigation into this criminal case has been completed, all the accused and their defense teams have started to familiarize themselves with the criminal case files," the statement said.

Storchak has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation. If convicted, he faces between five and 10 years in prison.

Some analysts see the case against Storchak as a sign of a power struggle within the Kremlin between free-market liberals like Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and conservative elements favoring a greater role for the state in the economy.